The Time is Now: COVID-19 and Fair Funding
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan families and educators are worried about their students’ unfinished learning, while state- and district-level leaders face unprecedented decisions to safely prepare for the fall and address the potentially devastating impact of the public health and economic crises on education.
Tragically, Michigan is already among the worst states in the country for equitable funding.
For the future prosperity of Michigan and the success of our students, we must commit to becoming a more equitable education state, rather than worsening the gaps between Michigan’s rich and poor districts – and further limiting opportunities for our most vulnerable children.
In this brief, we lay out how Michigan can do that in three key ways:
- Prioritize investment in public education over other areas of the budget, including by reversing decisions to divert money from the School Aid Fund.
- Protect funding for vulnerable students, including by ensuring any state budget cuts, if necessary, are done fairly and equitably.
- Ensure transparency and accountability by making a real commitment to have dollars reach the children for whom they are intended.
A Marshall Plan: Reimagining Michigan Public Education
As the U.S. rightfully confronts longstanding inequality and racial injustice, Michiganders have a historic opportunity to address decades-long underinvestment in education and opportunity gaps disproportionately impacting students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners and students in rural communities.
A Marshall Plan: Reimagining Michigan Public Education offers a pragmatic, solutions-based educational recovery agenda for COVID-19. With this educational recovery is call to action for a ‘new normal’ that equitably invests in all communities and recognizes every child’s innate capacity to learn at high levels, no matter the color of their skin, the language they speak or their zip code.
Key recommendations include:
- Fair investment
- Honest Information, Transparency and Public Reporting
- Extended Learning Time
- Quality Virtual Instruction and Access
- Inclusivity and Socioemotional Supports
- Transitions to Postsecondary Opportunities
Michigan’s School Funding: Crisis & Opportunity
Michigan is now in the bottom five states nationwide for equitable school funding, and should take immediate steps to invest much more in students who have historically been underserved and left behind.
Michigan’s School Funding: Crisis and Opportunity shows how the state’s K-12 education funding system is neither adequate nor equitable – with the hardest burden falling on students with special needs, from low-income families, new English speakers and students in isolated rural schools.
Not only is an investment in our children the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do.
If Michigan’s current K-12 students had educational achievement at the national average, their lifetime earnings could increase by an estimated $27 billion, according to leading research.
Following an in-depth analysis of the state’s current funding system, as well as evidence-based principles from leading education states, the report recommends:
- Funding according to student need
- Providing additional funds to districts with greater need
- Ensure accountability and transparency in state and district education spending
Our children deserve better. Our employers are demanding better. Other states are doing better.
For the sake of our children and our economy, we need to transition to a system of school funding that is fair and equitable. This report points the way.
Fair Funding for Michigan
Achieving fair, equitable funding for Michigan students will take the efforts of us all. Working together, we can build toward a bright future for our children and our state.
Getting to a better place begins with good information. Proposal A was passed by Michigan voters in 1993 and made changes to the collection and use of taxes.
While Proposal A is the foundation of our school funding system, decisions made about how funds are spent play a major role in how equitable (or not) our system is.
Once you have the information needed, join us in urging state leaders to move to an equitable funding system, based on student need. Stand with students and sign the Fair Funding Pledge.
Opportunity for All (2019)
This is a moment of sobering reality in Michigan.
It has taken decades for Michigan’s education system to decline to where it stands today, ranked near the bottom in so many important measures for student achievement. And it’s clear that we will not transform into a top ten education state overnight.
But this is also a moment of great opportunity for Michigan. In the last few months and years, we have seen a growing commitment among leaders across the state to embrace a new vision for public education in Michigan. Our new governor has made enhancing public education one of her top priorities; legislative leaders have indicated their willingness to change our state’s trajectory; and business, civic and philanthropic organizations have given strong support to the measures we’ll need to take to become a top ten state for education.
We know what we need to do to begin making steps towards improvement.
Leading states across the country have shown us the way. By adopting data-driven, evidence-based practices, by keeping a clear focus on equity, and by mobilizing the support of a diverse set of stakeholders, Michigan can improve educational opportunities for all of Michigan’s students regardless of their backgrounds.
This is the right moment for all Michiganders to come together, to ensure we make the most of this opportunity to do right by all Michigan students. We can’t afford to wait any longer.
Michigan Achieves! Progress Indicators
To know whether we’re on track with our goals of becoming a top ten state, The Education Trust-Midwest began tracking Michigan’s performance and progress of our P-16 system in 2016, in both academic measures and measures of learning conditions that research shows are essential for equitable access to opportunities to learn. Below, we share our progress toward becoming a top ten education state by 2030, as part of our Michigan Achieves initiative.
We use the best available state and national data to show where we are and where we’re headed by 2030 if we continue down our current path.
Michigan’s Third-Grade Reading Law
In 2016, Michigan lawmakers pass a law focused on improving reading rates for Michigan third grade students. Known as “Read by Grade Three,” the law requires schools to focus on early reading, support student learning, and communicate with parents about their children’s learning.
The law also requires students to be proficient in reading, before moving into the fourth grade.
The Education Trust-Midwest has partnered with Detroit Parent Network to help prepare and equip parents to navigate this complex law. In collaboration with parents, this project is developing tools to help parents support their children’s learning and advance the interest of their student.
Michigan’s new “A to F” law
In December 2018, then-Governor Rick Snyder passed a law that requires the state department of education to develop a statewide system of school accountability measurements, providing letter grades and
Each year by September 1st, starting in 2019, each public school will receive a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F for specific measurements:
- student academic performance;
- student academic growth;
- English learner progress;
- graduation rates (for high schools only); and
- the academic performance of students compared to students in demographically similar schools.
Michigan Education Parent Poll
No matter where Michigan parents live, their race or political affiliation, or how much their family earns, they want a high-quality education for their children, and generally agree on what changes are needed to improve Michigan’s public schools. In fact, “improving the quality of education” ranks as the number one issue on the minds of Michigan parents – well above their concerns about roads, the economy or health care, according to a new telephone poll commissioned by the Education Trust-Midwest.
These findings are among the results of a public opinion survey, conducted by EPIC-MRA and The Education Trust-Midwest of 600 Michigan parents of school-aged children in spring 2019.
About This Project
In 2015, The Education Trust-Midwest launched the Michigan Achieves campaign to make Michigan a top ten education state by 2030. Each year, we report on how Michigan is making progress toward that top ten goal based on both student outcome performance metrics and opportunity to learn metrics that signal the health of the conditions that Michigan is creating that
help support — or stagnate — teaching and learning in Michigan public schools.
Since then, a growing number of partners around the state have come to work together to advance the best practices and strategies from leading education states to Michigan, in order to close achievement gaps and ensure every Michigan student is learning — and being taught — at high levels.
Join the movement
Photos by Rex Larsen at Parkview Elementary School in Wyoming, Michigan, except where otherwise indicated.